Week 35: Feels Like Summer

I had a couple of busy weeks and Spring Break, so I missed a couple weeks of posts. I’m back this week, although not with anything too exciting to share.

A few things that have happened since I last posted:

  • Campus Bowl season is wrapped up and over with. Senior Night was a blast with a Seniors vs. Teacher match (teachers won!) that I definitely want to do again in the future. The end of the season always is a relief (free time, what!?) and sad because I don’t want it to be over.
  • Spring Break was great. I spent it reading, relaxing, and visiting with family members that I don’t get to see that often.
  • The insanity that is state testing is about to begin. ACT for all juniors next week and then EOCs the following week (not to mention Prom + more track meets). Fun!

It’s at this point in the year that I’m always strangely more motivated to think about things to do over the summer for next year than for wrapping up the end of this year. So here are a few goals I’ve made so far.

Things to KEEP doing:

  • Warm up schedule
  • Reflecting/adding notes to my plan book at the end of each day
  • Posting on Twitter

Things that MUST be done:

  • Combine notes for ALL classes into one file per unit
  • Add “on your own” problems to ALL classes
  • Write cumulative review worksheets for Calculus after quizzes
  • Do a more thorough job teaching inverse trig functions in Trig/Calc

Things to IMPROVE:

  • Incorporate more activities (this goal will never go away – but I’m making progress!)
  • Praising student work & celebrating individual successes
  • More concept/critical thinking questions on assessments (give an answer and have students explain how to get it?)

That’s it for now.!

Week 32: Not My Best

Sometimes you look back on a week and think about how well things went, and sometimes, not so much. From a content standpoint, it was fine, but I was frustrated and short-tempered. Absences are the bane of my existence right now. Kids who go to every possible extracurricular activity but then don’t ask for help or download the notes I post or do their make-up assignments make me crazy. I need to practice taking some deep breaths…

But we did have some good activities this week. We did a Question Stack in Algebra 2 with rational expressions that was great practice. I stole the idea and majority of the questions from @mathequalslove, but the gist is that you print the cards two-sided, then:

  • Place cards “Answer” side up
  • Flip over one card to “Question” side and work it out
  • Find the answer on another card, flip it over, and stack it on top of the original
  • Repeat until out of cards, the last answer should be the bottom of the 1st card

We also did a Desmos Activity for area between two curves in Calculus, and some QR Code practice over surface area in Geometry. Here’s to a smoother week next week!

Week 31: Rational Expressions… Sigh…

It was a week of tough topics all around — integration by substitution, logarithms, confidence intervals, & my least favorite, rational expressions in Algebra 2. With kids gone Tues. – Thurs. for various trips and activities two weeks in a row, it’s horrible timing.

I think I actually did a decent (well, better) job teaching addition and subtraction this year.  I tried a chart for organizing factors and finding the least common denominator, which helped. Plus lots of color coding.Cursor_and_lesson2day1_pdf__page_3_of_3_.jpg

However, the absences are killing us. Monday will hopefully be an intervention and practice day. I have a row game and question stack (via @mathequalslove) for us work through.
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On the plus side, I enjoyed a personal day on Friday for some much-needed time away from school. I feel less short-tempered and stressed. Also, my Campus Bowl team took 1st place at the tournament we competed in yesterday! Yay!


Week 30: Complete Insanity

What a week! It had ups, downs, exhaustion, frustration, and boredom. I had three Campus Bowl games, along with two nights of parent-teacher conferences. That means I had four days in a row of 12+ hours at school. I was kind of a mess by the end of the day on Thursday. Thank goodness we had Friday off before the conference tournament yesterday (in which we placed 2nd – yay!).

It was Pi Day on Tuesday, which means I got to enjoy lots of food this week and talk about math history a bit.

There was also a lot of review, quizzes, and tests. I had my Geometry kids work through some stations to practice before their test. I digitized everything this year, and added Quizlet and Desmos Card Sort stations as well. It would have been great, and was for about 15 minutes before they got called out to go over ASVAB test results… Oh, well…

My favorite part of the week was the conference Campus Bowl Tournament yesterday. We had a really close game that we tied by getting two math questions right, and then won in overtime. We played for the conference championship in the next game, but came up short. It was close, and I’m still really happy with 2nd. Three of my players made the All-Conference Team as well. It was a pretty great day. No matter how insane it makes my life in March, I love coaching.


Week 29: Calculus & Desmos Activities

We had a good week in Calculus using some Desmos Activities to build understanding of concepts before we leaped into formalizing.

Our first activity was “Who Finishes First?” It was related to velocity/time graphs and looking at distance traveled to determine who finishes a race first. We just finished the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus last week and this week I wanted students to start thinking of area under a curve as representing an accumulation of changes in different context instead of just plain old geometric area.

We did the first scenario together and talked about velocity as a rate of change in position, and how the antiderivative would just be the position function (not a new idea for us). We also discussed how graphing a velocity function in m/s on the y-axis and time in seconds on the x-axis results in a region with an “area” with units of meters. Then I kind of set them free to work through things with a few pauses for discussion along the way. I could have done a better job of facilitating and wrapping up, but it went pretty well. I think it helped prepare them for the next day when I basically threw a bunch of integrals at them and asked them to figure out what each represented in the context of each situation.

A little later in the week, we worked on “Average Value of a Function.” My intro was having them estimate the average of a data set, then tell them we were going to go find the average value of continuous functions instead of a discrete set of data. I had a few technical issues with this one, some kids’ hadn’t updated their iPads and I think that caused a few things to lock up. But they were working in partners and most were fine.

This activity was leading them towards coming up with the idea behind /a formula for average value of a function. I did a better job facilitating this time, and locked them in slides 1-8 until they could tell me their idea for the relationship between the average value and area under their function. Some of them needed a little help getting there, so made their function a rectangle and asked how they could find the height if the y-axis wasn’t labeled. I also made them write the formula for average value on paper using an integral once they typed it in words, because I couldn’t quite figure out slide 9.  However, I think this really got to the underlying geometric idea behind average value much better than me just telling them. I’d definitely do it again.



Week 27: March Madness

This post has nothing to do with basketball. However, I think “March Madness” is going to be a pretty accurate description of my month. I forgot to blog over the weekend, so this is a Monday catch-up post.

Tests and quizzes went well for my classes last week. Almost every single class managed to get an A average (after a few retakes). We started area in Geometry and logarithms in Algebra 2.

I always feel like my Geometry kids should already know the basic area formulas for polygons and circles, but I end up reteaching them. I try to make it a little more interesting by throwing in some compound figures, which are fun to compare different methods on.

Algebra 2 always does well with logarithms (at least before we get to equation-solving). I make a big deal about them just being an exponent and do a lot of switching back and forth between exponential and logarithmic form of equations.

We also finally learned the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Hallelujah for no more long Riemann sums!

It was a four day week last week, with PD on Friday. During PD, I agreed to become the teacher “coach” for iMovie for our district, which will be an adventure. I’m definitely not an expert. At least not yet… Now to make it through another busy week.

Week 26: Struggles & Lots of Wrap-Up

This week was a kind of a hectic mess. It was district basketball, FFA week, and the first regular season Campus Bowl games (which I coach).  I have kids who have been in class literally one day in the past five. Most of them have not really tried to stay caught up, despite the fact that I’m always around before school (and they’ve been there in the mornings, just leaving early for activities). This is super frustrating to me. But enough ranting…

I have a lot of classes who spent time reviewing this week for tests and quizzes. So I don’t have too much exciting to post. We did some Quizlet Live, Jenga, and Lottery Review. Those are kind of my go-to review activities. We will see how tests go on Monday.

Some positive things for the week:

  • One of my sections of Algebra 2 got an A average on their quiz on Friday!
  • We won our 2 Campus Bowl games. I really do love coaching and spending time with my team.
  • My Calculus kids were especially good about asking questions and discussing integrals this week. I love it when they ask good questions.
  • The FFA pancake breakfast was Friday, which I always enjoy because it is tasty and means I don’t have to cook.